Once common throughout the Middle East, the Northern Bald Ibis was thought to be long-extinct. Then, in 2002, Italian naturalist Gianluca Serra found an isolated colony of these beautiful and fascinating birds in Palmyra, Syria. Dr. Serra encountered the tiny community – no more than 50 birds – living among the ancient structures of this fabled desert oasis. Immediately, efforts began to help this small population thrive and expand. Unfortunately, as war overtook the region, conservation work came to a halt. The humanitarian and cultural tragedy unfolding in the ibis’ habitat put the birds directly in harm’s way. Throughout the violence and disruption, local people risked their lives and livelihoods to keep the birds alive.

Now, after years of unstable, vulnerable existence, the birds are slowly returning to their home in the ruins of Palmyra. In Syria, the birds have become symbolic of the interplay between human conflict, the natural world, and the fragility of the country’s extraordinary desert steppe ecosystem. As Palmyra itself recovers from years of destruction, the story of the Ibis mirrors the resilience of the people of this ancient desert city. The IDA, in partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation and Jammy Custard Animation Studios, hopes that this short film will raise awareness of the Northern Bald Ibis’ plight, and serve as a reminder of the unique value of life, history and heritage. All proceeds from this project go directly to the World Wildlife Fund.

Music by Christine Southworth. https://www.kotekan.com/